Lost in Translation

Poorly translated sign The reason this picture is funny is because of the horrible translation job done. Click on it to see better. They must have used an online translating tool or something because the English is horrific. The idea behind the sign is for people to take off their hats before entering the sanctuary. The second part is about being respectful because this is a place of worship.

There is a lesson in all this. I think the problem lies in the attempt for an exact translation of the words. The lesson (for ministry) in this example is that we cannot translate everything exactly. We want to get an idea across. Many times, in missions, we try to translate our idea of Christianity (or youth ministry, pastoral ministry, or whatever ministry) exactly, when really, the idea is what we should be communicating.

The problem, however, is that it’s easier (in the short run) for us to just import something. In the example above, it was much easier for them to just put the text into a computer program and settle for a translation, however bad it may be. It would take more time to actually try to translate it or ask someone to help translate it into correct English. Often we don’t want to take the time to spread the idea, and we look for a quick answer.

By the way, thanks to Amy for the picture.